The Office for National Statistics has reported that sales rose by 1.2% in October. This is believed to be thanks, in part, to a surge in people doing early Christmas shopping.
The figures have shown that the increase in sales has come primarily from online retailers. The feedback from shops indicates that people still seem to prefer avoiding the high street. The trends seem to show that shoppers had wanted to avoid the last-minute rush by doing their Christmas shopping early.
While sales overall have risen, clothing sales have continued to fall. Localised Coronavirus restrictions during October seem to have affected footfall on the high street. It is believed that this has impacted clothing stores.
Deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said: “Feedback from shops suggested some consumers may have brought forward their Christmas shopping, ahead of potential further restrictions. Online stores also saw strong sales, boosted by widespread offers.”
Although the latest figures are reassuring, economists are expecting to see a decline in sales for November due to the current closure of all non-essential retail. Pantheon Macroeconomics have said that they are expecting a 10% decline as a result of coronavirus measures. Although this would be a steep decline, it is still better than the 23% drop which was seen in April.
Further jobs losses are possible
With restrictions due to ease in December, economists say that there could be a further surge in sales. However, many are remaining cautious regarding this. A large number of retailers have been put at risk due to the enforced closure. The concern is that if stores were forced to remain shut for longer then thousands of jobs could still be at risk. Just this week, high street chains Peacocks and Jaeger have announced that they have called in administrators, a move which puts almost 5,000 jobs at risk.
Chief Executive of Retail Economics said “The second lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time for the sector. Those that don’t have sophisticated online propositions and the capacity to cope with the shift towards online will be under enormous pressure.”